By Erin Huffstetler | 10/03/2014 | 15 Comments
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My husband and I have been married for 13 years, and for most of those years we’ve dreamed about owning a large property where we could spend our weekends and summers. Somewhere we could plant an orchard, a grove and a great big garden. Somewhere our kids could run around and make lots of memories. Somewhere we could hike, fish and hang out around a campfire. Somewhere that our kids could eventually bring their kids to. A magical place where time slows down and the digital world falls away.
But a dream like that? It’s a big one. And it takes a lot of time to make happen. Land is expensive, and the kind of property we were looking for doesn’t pop up every day. So, we looked at properties from time to time and continued to dream, continued to hone our wish list, as the years ticked by.
If I saw something we’d need for our future homestead at a yard sale or in a curb pile, I’d scoop it up, and haul it home. It felt good to be working towards our dream, even if it was in small ways. Over the years our basement has filled up with those finds, and I’ve shared many of them with you. The vintage stove that we bought at an estate sale for $30, the farm table that we rescued from a neighbor’s curb pile. Those were all pieces of our big dream.
And it’s a dream that’s finally taking shape. Today we are closing on a beautiful 35-acre property that is everything we wanted and more than we could have imagined. There’s still lots of hard work ahead of us, but we can’t wait to get started. Because working towards something you want, it just feels good.
Let me show you around.
The property is in an extremely rural area, and it wasn’t even developed until 2003. The first owners had electricity and phone service brought in (a major plus), and they dug a shallow well. We’ll have to dig it deeper to make it potable, but the first 48 feet are out of the way. They also built the structure that you see here. It’s a lean to that they built around a bus.
The bus was removed a couple years back, which is why you can see trees through the front windows. Or maybe I should say window openings, since someone swiped several of the windows while it was sitting vacant. Some of the roofing tin, it was stolen too.
But this 3/4 of a cabin, we consider it a major bonus. Because it’s really solidly built. We’re going to repair the weather damage and close in the back side before winter, so we have somewhere to stay right away.
The living room has a nice stone fireplace. I suspect the stone came from the property because there’s lots of it in the woods.
And here’s the back wall of the living room that we’re going to have to close in. We plan to finish this space first, so we have somewhere to stay. Then, we’ll tackle the rest of the cabin.
This is the kitchen fireplace. It shares a chimney with the living room fireplace. Both are set up for woodstoves, so we’re on the lookout for a couple cast iron stoves.
And here’s a zoomed out view of the kitchen. It has plenty of room for my farm table and a good-sized work space. They had a rainwater catchment system, which is what a lot of those pipes in the wall are for. Not sure what we’ll do with that, yet.
This is the back wall of the kitchen, or maybe I should say, the future back wall of the kitchen.
Here’s the space that the previous owners carved out for a bathroom.
And I believe this area served as a laundry room. There’s part of a rainwater catchment system in place.
We plan to have a separate bathhouse, so we’ll combine the bathroom and laundry room space into a bunk room.
All told the cabin is about 850 square feet. Plenty of room for the four of us.
Now, let’s head out the back door, so I can show you the rest of the property. (Don’t worry, I already have a door on our shopping list).
The previous owners had horses, and this was their tack house. We plan to use it as our bath house.
It’s a generously-sized structure, with plenty of room for two stalls and two sinks. And bonus: no one stole the windows. As you can see from all the sunlight coming through the walls, the siding wasn’t installed properly. We’ll have to take it down and reinstall it.
Since the property doesn’t have a septic system yet, we’ll be using a compost toilet and a solar shower in the short-term. Watch for another post on that.
The property sat empty the last two years, so it really needs to be bush hogged (we’ll take care of that this week). But it’s amazing how many native plants are on the property. We’ll have beautiful wildflower bouquets whenever we want them.
I spotted this apple tree on one of our first visits.
And there are blackberry briars EVERYWHERE. I can’t wait to see what else we discover.
The house and tack house sit up on a ridge, with a wonderful breeze. If you walk down the ridge a bit, you come to this gorgeous pond. It has cattails, lilly pads and about a million frogs. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many frogs in one place before.
The pond is spring-fed, and it’s supposed to be stocked. We took a fishing rod down there Sunday, but with all the lilly pads, our worm just sat on the surface. We’ll have to do some further investigating.
Just past the pond is a hiking trail. There are about 33 wooded acres with trails throughout.
And there are lots of signs of wildlife. Some welcome.
Some less so.
About a quarter-mile in, you come to this big rock formation. It looks like something that you’d find in a national park. We’ll definitely have to stick a picnic table or two here. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic.
And that’s where our dream begins.
We have lots of work ahead of us, but that’s okay. Great even. We’re lucky to be able to realize such a big dream, and even luckier to be able to do it while our kids are still at home. They’ve heard us dream about this for years, and I’m happy to be able to show them that big things really can happen. Hopefully it will inspire them to dream big, too. And the time that they spend swinging a hammer or manning a paint brush, that’ll be great for them, too. I want them to grow up with real-world skills and a sense of what can be accomplished with hard work and a positive attitude.